The retail industry is at a turning point where digital disruption meets increasing customer demands. It has never been more critical for retailers to create smarter, more personalized, meaningful connections with their customers.
Today’s customers are picky and savvy about how they communicate and interact with retail brands. They not only want seamless experiences on their terms, but they also want their engagements to be more personalized. Retailers can’t ignore consumer expectations for better experiences — Customer Experience (CX) transformation initiatives need to become a boardroom-level discussion.
Reaching Customers on Their Terms
The rapid shift to digital has put pressure on retailers to swiftly move to real-time digital communication channels. With this in mind, retailers must ensure they are engaging on the right channels in the right way in order to meet consumers where they are. Brands will need to be responsive and move to where their customers are in order to improve the overall customer experience. After all, recent research found that 75% of consumers see good CX as a reason to be a repeat customer with a business.
The first touchpoint when connecting with consumers is changing. Interactive messaging channels like Apple Messages for Business, WhatsApp Business, and Google Business Messages are creating a more engaging customer experience. Google Business Messages even allows retailers to put themselves in front of consumers who are already looking for brands via Google by adding the option to message businesses directly from within the web search function.
As mobile commerce continues to rise, so will the need for brands to invest in digital customer engagement. Retailers should make sure that they have the right two-way messaging channels in place that allow customers to interact with them on their own terms. Deploying proactive, targeted communications to shoppers also helps improve the overall customer experience as well as increase revenue, for example, by sending abandoned basket alerts or a notification of an item being back in stock. A mix of targeted automated messaging, coupled with the ability to escalate to a live agent, and backed by controls to empower consumers to manage the communications they receive will power this shift.
The Changing Customer Expectation
The ‘Amazon Effect’ and increases in initiatives like Buy Online, Pickup In-Store (BOPIS) have led to digital natives across multiple generations dominating the retail landscape, where consumers expect fast, effortless, and joined-up purchase experiences. And the desire for consumers to receive products instantly is not going away.
Retailers must prioritize keeping up with consumer expectations by ensuring they have a centralized communications platform in place that is able to integrate into their existing tech stack and maximize the use of existing systems. This investment will help retailers to streamline efficiencies as well as scale up their communications operations to help with the demand for automated services like BOPIS and curbside pickup.
While automation provides convenience to customers, it can create headaches for modifying orders or delivery information without the proper self-serve AI chatbot functionality. Additionally, retailers want to ensure that live-chat support is a seamless option for those customers dealing with more complex issues that are not suitable for automated support.
Retailers should also consider near real-time automated feedback surveys to promote better engagement and understand customers’ preferences for how they communicate with them.
Capitalizing Through CPaaS
Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) offerings such as Webex Connect provides retailers with a centralized platform to manage their customer interactions across any digital channel in a seamless manner.
CPaaS technology enables retailers to make communication channels like voice, SMS, rich messaging, and video more accessible for customers. This increased sophistication allows for enhanced and personalized communications, which ultimately helps make customer interactions more engaging.
By adopting a platform approach, retailers can orchestrate, automate and monitor their customer interactions across multiple different channels with ease – helping to create connected, contextual experiences their customers expect.
The author, Brian Heikes, is Director of Product Management at imimobile, part of Webex